Sex Roles

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 289–300 | Cite as

Why is cross-sex-role behavior more approved for girls than for boys? A status characteristic approach

  • Saul Feinman


Previous research has found that cross-sex-role behavior is less approved for boys than for girls in contemporary American culture. The investigation reported in this paper developed a general theory of the effects of status variables on evaluation of role behavior performance. Several propositions in the specific area of sex roles were tested empirically and all were confirmed. Subjects were 169 college students who responded to either a measure of disapproval of cross-sex-role behavior or a measure of disapproval of appropriate sex-role behavior. The results indicated that male-role behavior was more approved for both male and female actors, but that this difference was greater for boys than for girls. In addition, the results indicated that the cost in disapproval is greater for males who engage in cross-sex-role behavior than for females. Finally, the difference by sex of actor in approval-disapproval of female-role behaviors was larger than that for male-role behaviors. These results were discussed within the context of sex as a status variable. The general applicability of the propositions developed in the study was discussed. Also found were sex differences among subjects in response to cross-sex-role behavior and appropriate sex-role behavior.


College Student Social Psychology General Theory Specific Area American Culture 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Saul Feinman
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WyomingUSA

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